tv Mosaic World News LINKTV September 6, 2012 11:30am-11:55am PDT
seems far removed, today 21st-century europe strains to accommodate the outcome. the fall of the berlin wall marked the end of the soviet empire's iron curtain and reshaped germany's borders. a new unified berlin is emerging: the capital of a reunited germany near the center of a european region whose borders expanded with the demise of the iron curtain. narrator: during the cold war that followed world war ii, germany existed as two antagonistic countries, east germany and west germany. berlin, the historic capital of the nation, located deep inside communist east germany, was also divided into east and west sectors. for nearly 30 years, this division was marked by a wall built right through the city. the wall went up in 1961. then in 1989, germany was reunified
and the wall was torn down. man: the wall comes down, there is great euphoria. finally the two cities can be connected again and made one. it is a new symbol of the unification of germany, the symbol of unification of germany. people are euphoric-- they go to the wall when the wall opens up, and they visit and they g and everybody seems to be very happy, but once the euphoria settles a little bit, it becomes very clear that between the two sides, there is fundamental differences. narrator: an entire generation had grown up on opposite sides of the wall under radically different political systems with different social values. now everyone would live in a capitalistic market economy-- in effect, the west had won-- but it hasn't been easy to bridge the 40-year gap. isabelle aflalo studied the urban geography of berlin just after the wall was demolished. she starts her journey in what was west berlin,
near what the locals call the "ku'damm," or the kurfuerstendamm. this avenue, often compared to the champs-elysées in paris, was a showcase of western consumer goods and the capitalistic lifestyle when the city was still divided. ( aflalo speaking french ) translator: we have just seen the ku'damm district, a very rich area with a lot of commercial and cultural activities. when the city was divided, this area was very heavily financed by west germany. herb: in the west, this was the symbol of the success of the capitalist system. we have the construction of ku'damm, building up with beautiful shops, with department stores that showed, really, that this was the promised land, this is... all the goods could be had on the western side. narrator: the train takes isabelle toward the center of berlin, through a neighborhood called kreuzberg, right beside the former wall.
this area became, during the time of the wall, the refuge of less-fortunate sectors of society, and therefore the center of a more popular and cosmopolitan lifestyle. a whole culture of cheap, if not free, accommodation took over the area. it was also the home of 50,000 rkish immigrants. after reunification, many expected kreuzberg to become more desirable and expensive, but that hasn't happened. it's still the poorest neighborhood in berlin. as isabelle continues eastward, she enters the station for the elevated train just at the place where the wall once cut the city in two. when the wall was built in 1961 by the soviet army, the official reason was to create a barrier to protect the east from its capitalistic enemy, the west.
in fact, the wall was built to stop the uncontrollable flood of emigration from east to west berlin. for 28 years, the blunt and brutal wall divided not only streets and families, but also symbolized the cold war dividing the entire world. ( aflalo speaking french ) translator: at the time when the town was split, this place was an intermediate zone which was no longer in the west but not quite in the east either, since the border was, in fact, defined by the river. the wall was quite rough; it was not painted, since it was situated in a zone reserved for transit formalities. in fact, there were three types of passage, very regimented: those for foreigners, those for west germans and, like here, only for west berliners. ( continues in french ) translator: and now i'm entering east berlin. narrator: here, the tramway replaces thsubway along avenues with many deserted buildings.
the urban layout here, contrary to that of the west, is radial rather than linear. it is a more classical and controlled urban model, with avenues converging on alexanderplatz, both the historic center of the town and what was the symbolic center of communist power. it is here that alternative culture now gravitates. ( man speaking german ) translator: of course, for us, living in this buildin is a kind of philosophy. i've lived in the friedrichshain area for four years now. before that, i lived in west berlin, in kreuzberg. i really needed a new apartment, and there were houses empty here. that's why i moved to friedrichshain. there are 70 claims of ownership on this building
until 1933, it belonged to polish jews, who were thrown out by the nazis. then it became the property of the german democratic republic, and now the courts are trying to decide to whom they will give it. narrator: friedrichshain, and especially kreuzberg, were expected to become more desirable, even expensive places to live after reunification. but the process putting a city back together again is complex and can be very hard to predict. herb: now with the wall gone, there'll be investment into the city center area. this will bring the two sides together. there'll be speculation, and actually, the less- affluent sections of society will move out, because they will not be able to afford the new rents, which will go up with renovations left and right. and this hasn't happened to the degree that people thought it would.
narrator: and as the realities of reunification diverge from expectations, some berliners resent the changes. ( taxi driver speaking german ) translator: before, no one was interested in berlin-- nobody came to berlin. why? because there was nothing to gain. now we're going to have the government and everything that goes with it-- all the big international companies, the lobbyists and all the rest. for me, it's not positive. once, just after reunification, one of my clients said to me, "we should rebuild the wall, but four meters higher, and this time, all the way around berlin." narrator: whether its inhabitants like it or not, berlin is now an open city and the site of major development efforts. one of the first big developments was created
almost literally out of the rubble of the wall. potsdamerplatz is an ambitious attempt to build an entirely new corporate and commercial magnet right in the heart of what was prewar berlin. international corporations like sony, at&t and daimler-benz have invested in major construction, which also includes a vast shopping mall, perhaps because it is hotels, aso totally newers. and shows off a commercial, global culture instead of the city's own past, potsdamerplatz has become hugely popular with berliners. th is one place where residents of the former east and west can mingle freely and comfortably. as much as potsdamerplatz has changed the face of berlin, the most significant development in the city's new identity is not commercial but political: the decision to put the capital of a reunified germany in its original historic location-- berlin.
( speaking german ) translator: we are now entering the bend of the spree river. this is the site that was chosen for the future chancellery and the new parliament building. narrator: the new federal strip literally straddles the site of the old wall and includes a new chancellery and parliament building. like so much else in today's berlin, both its location and the design of the buildings are meant to express the spirit of a reunified city and country. the fact is, of course, that after reunification, east germany, in economic and social terms, is considerably behind west germany, and the decision to move or to designate berlin as the capital is in part a reflection of a commitment to trying to show east germany that it is indeed part of the new germany. narrator: also symbolic was the decision to refurbish the traditional seat of the national legislature, the reichstag. in part, this was intended to make a statement about germany's democratic government. herb: here we have this old german symbol that's transformed
by this glass dome over this and transforms the building, and you can now go upstairs in the dome and not only see all of berlin right around you-- you can see potsdamerplatz, you can see over to oranienburgerstrasse, where the old synagogue used to be, which has been beautifully restored, you can see the alex, the old eastern tv tower and you can also see into the chamber. the light from the dome feeds actually into the chamber where the debates are. so this is what... for the germans, it is a representation of the transparency of their new democracy that they're having now. berlin is a very exciting city because of the construction, because it's in flux, and it's not just a small town somewhere along the former iron curtain. berlin is where the east and west meets in a real, substantial sense. and i think that's why berlin can go out of the slump it has right now,
because it has that kind of unique situation of being at the cutting edge, right there at the meeting place between the two sides of east and west. narrator: since the fall of the wall in 1989 and the end of the cold war rivalry between e west and the soviet union, berlin is being transformed into one city as the capital of a unified germany. the collapse of the soviet iron curtain reshaped europe itself. berlin has once again assumed a physically central location in a new expanded european region. berliners are hopeful that their city will soon attain a more central functional location within europe as well. in the decades to come, their success will be measured in an eastward shift of europe's economic core and the emergence of berlin as a city whose relative location is at the center of a new europe. technically, poland became democratic in 1989
almost immediately after the collapse of soviet rule here. but the diffusion of democratic practice-- that is, the transformation of people's behavior, values and social institutions-- takes much longer. this is the story of a polish-american geographer who has been leading an effort in poland to spread the skills and attitudes and create the social institutions that make a successful free-market economy and democratic society possible. woman speaking polish ) translator: the elections brought hope. we thought the new system would bring change. but now we see that politicians are politicians. and while they quarrel, the people get poorer and poorer. ( speaking polish ) translator: society is still living as if we were in communism. people thi that every new thing is a bad thing. the people can't switch.
( students debating in polish ) narrator: years after the collapse of communist rule, these polish teenagers voice the frustrations of a nation. ( speaking polish ) translator: my father is 42. he doesn't have good health. what is he supposed to do, compete for a job? narrator: poland's transition to democracy has not brought the prosperity many poles expected. a recent survey claimed that 70% felt life was harder now than it was under communism. man 1 ( translated ): jarek is talking about natural selection. if you are a pusher, you get a good job and the others don't. but what about good, moral people? man 2 ( translated ): the person who is stronger wins-- this is capitalism! the law of the jungle? the stronger will win. but that's the law of the jungle. narrator: but in the debate over these difficult economic questions, joanna strzelecka-- the teens' attentive teacher in the middle there-- sees new skills emerging, a new capacity for discourse, compromise and civic engagement. the future of poland's democracy depends
on how quickly these skills spread through its population. strzelecka is an agent of this diffusion. she is part of a plan crafted by a geographer to speed the pace of change in a race against the collapse of open society. in 1989, democracy reached poland and the other eastern bloc nations of the former soviet empire. now these nations face the turmoil of political and economic transition, and their fledgling democracies are put to a severe test. man ( translated ): each time you vote by majority, you should define what "majority" means. narrator: before she could teach it, strzelecka had to learn for herself that democracy is about more than voting for politicians; it's a decision-making process that pervades not just government but civic, social and even business organizations in an openociety
translator: in fact, a majority is always 50% of the votes plus one. narrator: today, in the very classrooms where communist workers once learned auto mechanics, community leaders like strzelecka are learning the mechanics of democratic decision making. ( man speaking polish ) translator: why is it 50% plus one vote? why can't it be 54%? ( translated ): we can't have people divided into point-somethings. and if we say 50% plus one, then it's 12 in this case. ( continuing to discuss in polish ) narrator: this workshop on how to set up an association is one of many given by the local democracy in poland program, a nationwide effort to introduce democratic practice to the population. ( group discussing in polish ) narrator: these trainees are here because local group decision making-- a crucial activity in a democracy-- was almost nonexistent under communist rule. so the trainees are taught
some unfamiliar skills and insights... ( speaking polish ) narrator: like team building and public relations, conflict resolution and negotiating and the importance of point of view. ( light laughter ) each of the trainees was selected according to a finely honed strategy, a strategy based on the geographic phenomenon of diffusion. diffusion is the spreading of an idea, innovation, disease, anything, from its source outward across the landscape. politically, a country can become democratic literally overnight. but true democratic practice spreads slowly and unevenly, a rate of change that poles are looking to increase. chief architect of poland's plan to spread democratic practice is polish-born geographer dr. joanna regulska, who teaches at rutgers university.
regulska emigrated to the u.s. in 1977. since 1989, however, she's worked closely with poland's parliament developing the framework for political and economic reform. when you want to sometimes to achieve something and bring everybody together, and you want it with all the democratic notion of getting the ownership, well, you need to spread this around. you need to kind of bring the communities together, the little places together. so these are the most important people-- for me, the people in the small village are the most important people. yes, the politicians in warsaw make the decisions. but, actually, these people in the small village are going to need to eventually stand up and say those decisions are wrong and we need to change them. narrator: regulska's concern for the little places is not nostalgic but geographic. the bulk of poland's population lives
in the small towns and villages, not in the more-democratized cities. rejection of democracy in these regions, then, could jeopardize the people's freedom. as a geographer, regulska knows that diffusion of democracy will depend on the barriers and the carriers. in poland, democratic society seems to have taken root in the largest cities thanks to carriers such as the media... tourism... and universities, all of which help to spread new ideas and opportunities. but in the small towns and villages, change comes hard. ( rooster crowing ) here, regulska found thatemocratic practice as measured by voter turnout, the presence of nongovernmental organizations
and citizens' initiatives-- is lagging badly. the barriers-- such as isolation and massive unemployment-- are hi, and the carriers-- human or technological-- are few. ( discussing in polish ) narrator: working with the foundation in support of local democracy here in their warsaw headquarters, regulska lays out her strategy for diffusion. her team used the foundation's regional training centers as bases and targeted 25 towns in which to plant the seeds of democracy. if all goes well, acts of public engagement in community life will spread outward from these hubs to the adjoining regions. strzelecka and her colleagues were recruited from among these communities. once they are schooled in democracy skills, each of these 90 trainees will be a carrier. back home they will model democratic behavior
by initiating town projects, networking and organizing the citizens of their villages and regions. take the two trainees on the right, for example, two of the youngest participants. they are tomek podolski and jacek kretkowski, a heavy-metal guitarist and budding writer, respectively. they live in korsze, a village of 3,200 people in one of poland's most remote regions. here, the mainstay of life has almost always been agriculture. under mmunism, large ate-owned rms like ts on were the number one employers. but the political and economic reforms of 1989 have changed that dramatically. since then, most of these cooperatives have either privatized and sharply reduced their labor forces, or they've padlocked their gates for good. the result in korsze, the trainees say, isecord 32% unemoyment
and suspicion and resentment for the reforms. ( gate rattles ) to show this town the democric way, the duo performed a simple act of citizen-initiated social organization. they put together a ping-pong tournament. so, what does ping-pong have to do with community needs? ( young man speaking polish ) translator: we are not starting with a very big or complicated problem, but it would be very difficult for us if we started with a major problem and we couldn't solve it. people would desert us. they would say, "they were trying but they are incompetent, and so we don't want to talk to them." but if we can make something simple, a tournament, and we're successful, then we can try to cope with more difficult problems
in the future. narrator: in fact, grassroots organizing like this is the bedrock of a successful democracy. and in korsze, ping-pong proved the perfect ice breaker. ( rock music playi ) but even this isn't so simple. without a local paper, it's up to them to spread the news of the event. and for the winners, in a region where things are tight, they persuaded sponsors to donate prizes in gifts and cash totaling close to six million zlotys. that's almost $300, or the equivalent in korsze of two months' wages. their campaign worked. four days before the tournament, these kids are here to practice, and the roster shows more than 75 entrants from three towns. and recent budget decisions show
that starting small and gaining trust has paid off. kors's legislators this year okayed the funds for tomek and jacek's second project, building a town playground. as word of such success spreads, the potential for civic engagement grows. this diffusion will speed or slow according to local social and economic factors. regulska: it's important to really also think about the context, you know, what's happening in these places, to what extent they will be like a sponge accepting and to what extent there will be certain resistance and the barriers, and kind of, you know, we need to work this differently. narrator: the barriers are not always obvious. an important one revealed itself only after the project had been running for years. we tended to lose women over time from these programs. and we did not understand what is really happening--